'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' will likely see the Jedi and the Sith make way for a new order
Though its story may be set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, 'Star Wars' has always reflected the dominant philosophies of its time and as the world has changed, it is time for this story to change as well
When 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' rolls into theaters, it will mark the end of an era and a paradigm shift for the entire franchise. Though its story may be set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, 'Star Wars' has always reflected the dominant philosophies of its time and as the world has changed, it is time for this story to change as well. George Lucas created 'Star Wars' with a vision of an epic battle between good and evil. He created the Jedi and the Sith to symbolize these opposing forces and the story of 'Star Wars' has always been the story of their centuries-long conflict.
However, that is beginning to change with the sequel trilogy that started with 'The Force Awakens'. The First Order, led by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and his apprentice Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), may seem similar to the Sith but their teachings are less concerned with the light and the dark. In 'The Force Awakens', Snoke mentions that Ren was such an excellent apprentice specifically because he had a blend of both Light Side and Dark Side influences. While their plans aren't entirely obvious at the moment, it seems the First Order wishes to do away with the distinctions of Sith and Jedi, replacing both with themselves.
Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) tells Rey (Daisy Ridley) something quite similar in 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'. According to him, the Jedi and the Sith create imbalances in the Force and the only way to create true balance is to do away with both of them.
Looking back on 'Star Wars' canon, this idea has been around since long before the events of the sequel trilogy began. The novelization for 'The Force Awakens' contains a verse from the Journal of the Whills, an ancient text that concerns the workings of the Force. The verse reads,
"First comes the day
Then comes the night.
After the darkness
Shines through the light.
The difference, they say,
Is only made right
By the resolving of gray
Through refined Jedi sight."
The fact that the verse mentions "the gray" is particularly interesting because it is a term that is used in the 'Star Wars' universe to refer to those who walk between the Light Side and the Dark, belonging to neither. While there aren't any examples of Gray Jedi in the movies, they do exist in the 'Clone Wars' animated series, which is recognized as part of the canon. The concept of the Journal of the Whills dates back to the earliest drafts of the franchise, in which George Lucas had intended to depict the entire 'Star Wars' story as being taken from the Journal. Though he did abandon that particular idea, the Whills have been mentioned in 'Rogue One', where Donnie Yen's Chirrut Îmwe is called a "Guardian of the Whills."
So how do the Whills and the concept of the Gray relate to the upcoming movie? Well, based on the D23 footage of 'The Rise of Skywalker', we know that the Jedi have transmitted all their knowledge to the next generation and that the Skywalker Saga is coming to an end. We also know that Rey may be seduced to the Dark Side as we do see a shot of her in black robes with a red light-saber. Just like how Ren isn't technically a Sith, Rey isn't a Jedi despite being sensitive to the Force. Both of them have shown an affinity to both sides of the Force and there is a chance that they may be the beginning of a whole new order, one that isn't bogged down by concepts of Light and Dark.
Back when Lucas made his first 'Star Wars' film, the Cold War was still on and the world at large was divided into clear binaries. However, the world has evolved since then. With the advent of the postmodern epoch, Light and Dark, like so many other binaries, are beginning to be abandoned in favor of a more balanced view of the world. By replacing the Jedi and the Sith with a new Gray Order, 'Star Wars' wouldn't just be bringing their epic Good vs Evil story to an end, but also making an important philosophical point that resonates well with the times we live in.
'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' will make its way to theaters on December 20, 2019.